Sunday, 6 March 2016


LOGLINE: Based on the book LAbyrinth by Randall Sullivan. The story of the investigation into the murders of Tupac Shakur and Notorious BIG.

WRITER: Christian Contreras

SCRIPT BIO: 10 votes on the 2015 black list.


This story starts off with SULLIVAN - a 45 year old Emmy winning TV producer. Problem is, that Emmy that he's pinned his entire career on was for a documentary about the killing of Biggie and Tupac - a documentary that has since been discredited to the point where ABC are about to issue a formal retraction of it. 

Sullivan's career is about to be washed away. He's also self-centred and arrogant. 

He learns that ABC are making a 20 year anniversary program into the deaths of Biggie and Tupac - but he's not attached to it. 

He's told by his bosses that if he can dig up new information on the rappers' deaths he can HAVE an entire program - which would re-boot his failing career. 

Enter Detective POOLE - the man assigned to the murders of Tupac and Biggie back in the 90s. 

Poole has quit the force and now lives in a trailer in the middle of nowhere surrounded by hundreds of photos and pieces of evidence of the rappers' killings. 

His entire life has become the murders - and it's taking its toll.

Sullivan goes to Poole in search of answers - but Poole despises Sullivan - as he was made to look like a bigot cop in Sullivan's Emmy winning documentary, but Poole wants the public to remember who shot Biggie and Tupac - so he begrudgingly helps Sullivan. 

What follows is Poole's recount of the investigation into Biggie and Tupac...


The subject matter is something that I'm extremely interested in. And given the success of Straight Out Of Compton, I'm sure that there is still a wide general interest in this story. 

The execution here doesn't feel like it does the subject matter justice. It feels like the storyline as been dramatised TOO MUCH. It doesn't feel real - especially for a REAL LIFE CRIME investigation.

Poole and Sullivan's interaction feels like a buddy cop movie - where two cops are forced to work together - at first they hate each other - but over time they learn respect for each other. 


The concept is good. There's definitely an audience for this. I'm not sure if this will kill it at the cinemas - but I've got a feeling it will do really well on VOD. 

It reads more like a home movie - rather than a cinema movie. 

The story here is essentially about corruption in the LAPD - a valid story that deserves to be told. 


CONCEPT TIP: Biopics are becoming all the rage these days. But just because a story is TRUE doesn't necessarily mean it'll make a great film. Take NYAD for example - that story really didn't need to be told. When choosing your subject matter for a true story - consider how important it is that the story be told - and if there is a potential audience for it. 


Form was okay here. Not great, but not bad. I guess you could say it walked the line. The read in general was a little confusing. 

Bold - was used often - but it actually helped in this screenplay. The writing was a little dense. It came in at 118 pages - could have been parred back to 108 pages easily. 


FORM TIP: Do the 10% pass. When you're done with your screenplay and ready to send it out - do a pass and aim to cut 10% of the words. 

You can leave the page count as it is - just get rid of those unnecessary, clunky words that slow the read down. It'll make for a leaner read and only help your script.


Characters were okay here. Sullivan and Poole were different enough people who really disliked each other. The problem here is that - even though they are REAL PEOPLE - they came across as written. They feel like caricatures of their original selves. 

I think that has a lot to do with...


The dialogue here wasn't as good as it could be. There were times when a beat had been established, then we have a character repeating that beat almost word for word in the next scene. 

A lot of the dialogue didn't sound like people talking - it  sounded like a writer writing. 


TIP: Do a read out loud pass. Read your dialogue out loud and record it into your computer - then play that recording back to yourself. You don't need to be a great actor - just read it as you imagine an actor would read it - then when you play it back to yourself, listen to see if it sounds like the way people really speak or not. 


Not a super strong voice here. I was constantly aware I was reading something ONE writer had written. I never lost myself in the story and felt like these were real characters having a real experience. 


VOICE TIP: The stronger your characters and their dialogue the stronger your voice will come across. Dialogue is such an incredibly important part of a script - if you're lacking in this department it will affect your voice and the overall script in a huge way. 


I'm not sure I'd put money into this. It doesn't have the same hook that Straight Outta Compton has. This is really just a true crime detective mystery into the deaths of two famous rappers. 

Straight Outta Compton - was the story of one of Hip Hops biggest super groups - NWA. 

I think, if well done, this film would break even - meaning everyone involved got paid and the investors likely get their money back - but there's not going to be a huge profit on this one. 

It'd be a minimum of $20 mill to get this made. A lot of that would go in music licensing  - you can't make a movie about Biggie and Tupac without having their music in it. 


A good relevant concept that doesn't quite reach the bar it's aiming for in its execution.
But still an interesting read and will make a good film.